Warped Tour Concert Review (2017)

Warped Tour (ft. GWAR, Municipal Waste, T.S.O.L., Sick Of It All, Hatebreed, Adolescents, Bowling For Soup, Knocked Loose, Valient Thorr, CKY, and War On Women)
July 27th, 2017
Providence Medical Center Amphitheater - Bonner Springs, KS

Blothar of GWAR
The annual Vans Warped Tour festival nailed down what is arguably its strongest lineup in several years for 2017. The tour stopped in Bonner Springs, KS on Thursday for a long, scorching hot day of hardcore, metal, pop-punk, and other forms of rock. The day's temperatures could qualify as oppressive, but nearly every band played on unfazed.

Of the several dozen bands to play, War On Women was one of the day's first. The Bridge Nine Records act churned out energetic melodic punk aimed at evangelizing viewers with their progressive views on rights for women, people of color, and the LGBT community. The band didn't explore any innovative ground sonically, but witnessing a band giving their all just after noon was impressive enough. The group's political nature also provided a certain type of comfort due to the fact that many current punk bands don't focus on overt politics.
Pete Koller of Sick Of It All

Many of the tour's legacy acts and punk rock vets performed on the Hard Rock stage. One of the earliest to do so was Valient Thorr. The grizzled rock-n-roll wildmen were clad in their usual denim-heavy attire and performed half an hour of boner jokes and throwback riffing. Dozens of biker types, rockers, and other bearded freaks instantly felt at home.

Two long-running Southern California punk acts long absent from the area also took the Hard Rock stage. Orange County legends the Adolescents put on a solid set. Vocalist Tony Reflex may not perform like the rabid animal like he used to emulate, but banter in-between songs showed that the guys were still happy to be there. The set included new songs and classics like "Word Attack" and "Amoeba."

Long Beach punks T.S.O.L. played in the early evening, and while they kept the songs tight, they didn't perform with the same vigor as the Adolescents. Singer Jack Grisham slowly swaggered back and forth across the stage in an oversized pink suit and didn't do much to engage the crowd. "Sounds Of Laughter" -- off the band's 1981 debut -- sounded nowhere near as maniacal as the record.

One of the day's best sets was put on in the middle of the afternoon by Sick Of It All. The New York hardcore band has been running since 1986 and is currently a well-oiled machine. Guitarist Pete Koller outperformed musicians half his age throughout the band's set. Koller made good use of his wireless amp connection by jogging across the stage and leaping into the air countless times. The key to his impeccable health may have been given away by a sticker on his amp -- he practices jiu jitsu. The band ripped through a remarkably clean set and closed things out with the first song they wrote as a band, the anthemic "My Life."
Bryan Garris of Knocked Loose

Municipal Waste played soon after Sick Of It All. Richmond, Virginia is known well for its thrash metal scene and it's tough to think of a better ambassador than Municipal Waste. Experts in the craft, the band gave the headbangers and circle-pitters what they wanted. A rendition of 2003's "I Want To Kill The President" included a charming update in the form of one member screaming, "You're fired!" during a drum fill.

Those seeking relief from some of the ultra-serious music taking place found refuge in Bowling For Soup. This Texas band of pop-punk jokesters has been at it for over two decades and still has several tricks up its collective sleeve. Crowd favorites like "1985," "Punk Rock 101," and "High School Never Ends" garnered a joyous reaction, but the band's cover of "Stacy's Mom" -- which they joked was theirs -- and a truckload of gags in-between songs elicited the most laughs of any bands performing.

Connecticut metalcore icons Hatebreed had to put in some work, but eventually won over a medium-sized crowd at one of the Mutant stages. Despite having released heaps of material full of dark, violent imagery, the band made it clear that all were welcome at their shows and that people should be open to exploring new types of music. Jamey Jasta, vocalist, invited fans over from surrounding areas to check out some "hardcore and metal." Jasta also paid homage to the hardcore bands (like Sick Of It All) that came before them and invited those in "mosh retirement" to join in on the fun. The result was a fairly active circle pit and a few hundred fans warmly receiving the band's fiery energy.
Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed

Knocked Loose is a newer band showcasing the direction in which metalcore is currently moving. The Kentucky outfit has close ties to the DIY hardcore circuit and invited members of Blindside USA to watch from the stage. Between some of the day's most vicious breakdowns, vocalist Bryan Garris hopped off the stage to catch a crowd surfer that had been neglected by security staff. Even if the band's take on the ever-evolving genre isn't what some listeners enjoy, it can still be said that they care about their fans.

MTV royalty CKY took the stage after many patrons had started to leave, but the band's grooving alt-metal still brought out some longtime listeners and gave them the attitude they paid to witness. In addition to the familiar "96 Quite Bitter Beings," the band's setlist included their cover of G.G. Allin's "Bite It, You Scum."

Although one final round of bands followed them, GWAR seemed to be an excellent way to end this year's Warped Tour. The interplanetary heavy metal warriors (based in Richmond, VA) started their set at 7:35 P.M. with the messy beheading of a swoopy-haired scene kid dummy. Donald Trump was sacrificed at the end of the band's epic performance, but an even more gratifying moment happened when a 5 year-old girl volunteered herself to be raised into the air and splattered with food dye blood blasted from the stage. Because Warped Tour is for the kids.

Full photo gallery here.

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